A lot of people have asked me for advice on buying a home in the last few months. This makes me laugh a little because I was a total spazz when buying mine but maybe you all can learn from my mistakes!
So here goes:
RACHEL’S TIPS FOR BUYING, BUILDING YOUR FIRST HOUSE
1. Make a list of 10 must haves and be willing to compromise on half of those things. I had no interest in building. Thought my budget was about 75k less than I ended up spending, wasn’t thinking of an income property and was looking at Daybreak instead of Draper. All those things changed. I also had to compromise on wanting an island in the kitchen and have a non-private back yard that isn’t ideal for entertaining.
2. Focus on the monthly payment not the total price. That’s what got me to expand my budget. Once I divided it down it became less overwhelming. Also, don’t forget to include HOAs, taxes and other expenses into your pricing decision.
3. Someone told me to plan on the house finishing 30 days after the cabinets installed. It was I think 35 days. Pretty good advice.
4. If trying to get FHA loan make sure FHA approvals are in for the unit you are buying. FHA is whacked out and they can refuse a unit within a complex that everything else is approved. It took me an additional month to get FHA approval on the house and it was super stressful.
5. Have a mortgage broker you can trust. Mine was fabulous. Marc and Christopher at City Creek Home Mortgages were very patient. One time Marc went through all the fees and escrows of my home purchase and then after talking with my uncle I was freaking out and he explained it all over again to me. Can’t ask much more than that. https://citycreekmortgage.com/
Their rates were also competitive with others that I checked.
6. FHA loans are low down payment (I think I paid 3% plus closing costs), mortgage insurance for first 5 years but a lower interest rate. Traditional loans have higher interest rate, no mortgage insurance and at least a 10% downpayment. I decided I was diving into my house for the long haul so I went with the lower interest rate and capital fluidity FHA loan gave me.
7. Do as much of the packing early on as you can. I did pretty well with this one. I also recommend buying a packet of boxes from Uhaul. It is very reasonable and if you don’t use any they will buy them back. I needed so many boxes! The nice thing about the Uhaul boxes is they have handles and are really sturdy. http://www.uhaul.com/MovingSupplies/Boxes/
8. It might take a long time. It might not to find the place for you. I was surprised how quickly I decided to build. I also always thought I would need tons of time to weigh my options and make such a big decision, but when it came down to it there is a finite number of factors and at a certain point I was just mulling over the same stats again and again. Just make the decision your gut tells you to make.
10. Find a realtor that gels with your personality and style. If you want someone who will work quickly and be proactive find that kind of realtor. If you want someone that will be cool and relaxed, no pressure, find that type. Mine was the latter. Since most sellers pay realtor fees I don’t see why anyone would want to brave buying a house alone. Why not!
11. Think about the potential of an area. Look at what is being built around it and if there are any vacant lots or construction planned. I know my location is always going to be hot because of the closeness to the freeway and the new adobe building, ikea, outlets, etc. Up in Suncrest is a little bit more removed, which could be a good or bad thing.
12. Get a therapist. I know you think I am joking but I’m so glad I had one. It was a very anxious time for me. So many decisions to make, so much to do, so much waiting (that’s the hardest part) and so much out of your control. I can imagine a therapist would be good for a couple as well (of course, I think that is generally a good idea for couples. Call me crazy!). It’s just a tough time.
13. Find out rules and restrictions of your area for special projects. This would have saved me a lot of grief with my income property. When the range got unapproved I panicked. It didn’t have anything to do with safety but a multi-family code. I don’t think I would have done anything differently because it has all worked out but it would have saved some anxious moments.
14. Be nice to your friends. You will need them for the move 😉 (Some wards don’t do moves any more I discovered)
15. Find projects you can do right away to keep yourself from going nuts. Pick out paint colors or get a patio set. Whatever. I had a lot of fun designing my curtains, closets and furniture before I moved and it least helped me feel somewhat productive. (Although make sure you have enough to pay your downpayment!
16. Don’t buy a house over Christmas! That was super hard.
17. I know I initially felt some anxiety about getting pre-approved. It’s a really easy process and doesn’t commit you to anything. You are not committed to that lender (and in some cases builders have particular lenders they want you to use for preapproval).
18. Get ready to sign your name like a million times, middle name included.
19. You will probably gain 10-15 lbs while waiting and moving and that’s ok. (or maybe that is just me…)
20. It’s a hard experience for everyone but the most seasoned buyers. It’s ok to freak out and have break downs. Its a big deal.
21. Throw a open house and celebrate your move in! (Another fun thing to plan while waiting). I did a big custom cake and told all my friends. You don’t have to do that but its nice to show your house to all your friends.
22. Outsource! I outsourced light fixture installation, tv mounting, artwork placement, setting up my grill, furniture assembly. Best money I ever spent. Plus, you get references that can be used throughout the life of your home.
23. Splurge on at least 1 item. For me it was my black out curtains. You are buying a house. Don’t be a cheapskate on everything.
24. Don’t forget to look out for storage. Be open to creative solutions, like in my basement apartment we used a pocket door and set up shelving in the closet under the stairs to make it more usable. It was not expensive and works great. I also spent $453 to put storage in the garage. Great investment
25. If you have an income property call references, and get to know them a little bit. Usually a nice place will get you nice tenants. And don’t enter their apartment without their approval unless it is an emergency. I also spent $300 to put insulation in the ceiling boards to give them more privacy and so they’d have less upstairs noise. Well worth it. I kept thinking if I lived there what would I want? As I lived in a basement apartment for 2 years it was easy to answer!
26. Hold a family/group meal soon after you move in. It just makes a house a home.
27. It’s ok to house brag a little. I felt kind of guilty at first that I was showing off but none of my friends cared. I figure they had to hear all the complaining, the least I could do is let them in on some of the joy.
28. Don’t forget to think ahead. My friend’s husband bought his house before they had met and didn’t think of getting good closets being a man and all. Your life might change and you need a place with at least a little bit of flexibility and that you won’t grow out of in 2 years.
29. Get ready and go for it. It is super hard. No doubt about it but it is worth it.
30. Pray before putting in your offer for confirmation it is right. Pray for strength, peace, assurance and help. Also, once you have moved in have the house dedicated in some way. In our church there is a prayer for that but it could be a new agey thing. Whatever. I think it helps with a sense of closure to the buying process and the beginning of living in your house.
So that’s my advice. Good luck in your search.